In a piece by Stuart Rothenberg about Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama, the author notes, “the Massachusetts Senator’s greatest potential impact was widely viewed as among Hispanics. Yet it was Clinton who generally won Hispanics, often overwhelmingly. In another recent RealClearPolitics article, titled Obama Works on His Hispanic Problem, author Ruben Navarette seems to suggest this disparity among Hispanic voters boils down to this. “Obama is never going to win a name-ID contest with Hillary Clinton, who benefits enormously from a brand that is still pretty well regarded in the Hispanic community.” The author continues to point out some strategic and tactical moves the Clinton campaign has made to retain support among Hispanics, while Obama has missed opportunities to make further inroads with this constituency that is critical to winning the Democratic nomination.
Okay. Fine. Perhaps that’s all it is. Name ID, strategic endorsements, cunning and timely pandering. But we’re gonna go ahead and call bullsh!t on this one. In this race we have two candidates who are virtually indistinguishable on the issues, who have both raised massive amounts of money, who both have a national presence and both a national ground game. Obama wins the votes of blacks by roughly 9 to 1. Clinton generally wins women’s votes by sizeable margins. Given the circumstances and unique, even bizarre, dynamics of this year’s Democratic contest, in which identity politics has bubbled to the fore, is it unreasonable to ask whether a similar, emotionally-driven phenomenon is primarily driving Hispanics to Clinton over Obama? Or is that too impolitic a question for national discussion nowadays?